Our shining stars: DPZoo volunteer spotlights
Ben Rankin, ZOOTeen since 2011
In his own words: “I chose to volunteer at the Dickerson Park Zoo because I’ve always been very interested in conservation and ecology. I figured that it would give me a good opportunity to do some educational work about issues important to me while helping my community as well… I think that everything that I did as a ZOOTeen helped me prepare for my educational and professional future. I got experience in a work environment, got to help establish and follow a best protocol for animal care, and also got lots of experience with public speaking on my educational programs. There was also a high degree of responsibility involved that will definitely help prepare me for the future.”
“Ben’s passion for conservation and his zoological knowledge is inspiring to other ZOOTeens and a true asset to the volunteer program,” say Emily Lansche, education specialist and ZOOTeen coordinator.
Tracy Cramer, Zoo Ambassador since 1997
In her own words: “I volunteer for the zoo because these creatures are here for our education, entertainment & benefit, so I feel we have a very deep obligation to care for them. Also to educate others to feel that same responsibility. Of course I would encourage everyone with a sense of responsibility for these creatures to volunteer. Some of the interactions with the public can be challenging, but it’s all worth it to preserve and protect these fabulous creatures.”
“Tracy’s smile and positive attitude are contagious to those around her. She instantly creates a fun environment!” says Erin Hitsman, event and Zoo Ambassador program coordinator.
Shelley Hannig, Docent since 2014
In her own words: “I love all animals and enjoy talking to people. So, getting to work with both is perfect. I think wildlife conservation is so important, and zoos are a great way to educate the public. A teacher at a school who was afraid of snakes asked if she could touch one when our program was over. Not only did she touch it, she actually held the tail and found that it wasn’t scary at all. I love reptiles and enjoy helping people see that they aren’t all bad.”
“Shelley has become one of our most dedicated, knowledgeable docents,” says Pam Price, conservation education director and Docent program coordinator. “Her positive personality and willingness to share conservation messages are invaluable.”
Julie Garoutte, Venture Crew since 2014
In her own words: “I chose to volunteer at the zoo because I wanted to work with animals and learn more about them. I want to learn how to be a zookeeper… I will have a lot of experience in animal care and health and how different species behave.” When you volunteer around zoo animals, you can have some unusual experiences. For Julie, one of her most memorable experiences was being “christened” when one of the elephants sprayed her.
“Julie is a very personable member of the crew,” says April Marler, animal health technician and Zoo Venture Crew adviser. “She is eager to contribute her ideas, time and efforts to almost any situation or challenge. Julie has demonstrated a willingness to work hard with minimal supervision.”
“Shining stars” volunteer spotlights are published in the zoo’s quarterly magazine “WildTimes,” mailed to our Friends of the Zoo members.